A mom wrote: After nine months of sobriety my 32-year-old son has slipped again, this time deeper than ever into the darkness of his substance. His drug of choice? “Any drug.” 

He found his way to a local hospital just yesterday after months of smoking crack. He lost a good job, forgot he has a five-year-old son and was homeless and sleeping behind a convenience store in the winter. 

His addiction is like a hurricane sweeping through our lives, destroying and uprooting everything in its path. Over time I have learned that when the winds begin to blow, I board the windows of my mind and heart, disconnect the phones and hunker down for the storm to come. The wind builds and there is nowhere to hide. Each time I pray this will be the last, but it repeats, teases and taunts. I get a glimpse of blue sky only for it to be quickly replaced by black clouds again. 

“Please let me come home,” he says. 

“No,” I answer. 

“I just want to come home. Why won’t you let me come home?” 

Just as I love the rain and the softness of a warm breeze, I love my son. 

Just as I hate the torrential downpour, the gale-force wind and mindless destroyer, I hate the addiction that has taken my son.

Today’s Promise to Consider: Relapse suffocates hope and faith, but I know that the decision to stop using has to come from the addict directly. It is a personal choice, not a family choice. I can the hate the addiction, but I will love my son. I will continue to believe.



Last week’s meditation evoked responses about the word ‘enabling.’ This dad’s comment below represents the general feeling among many parents about the lack of clarity between enabling and loving.

A dad wrote to me: We enable because we love our children and then we turn around and blame ourselves for helping them. It’s not fair to us, so I have chosen to do one of the four. When the choices are enable, blame, shame or love, I will choose love and “Stay Close.”

My personal reaction: We parents love our children and want to make things better for them. For me, I wasn’t sure what to do to help Jeff and almost ‘loved’ him to death. In the end, I chose to follow the advice of an Italian recovering alcoholic, “Do not abandon your son, but don’t give him money. Stagli vicino: stay close to him.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Our grown children make their own choices: some good, some not good. We can’t live their lives or choose for them, but we will love them and stay close.


Jeff with niece Iysa

A mother wrote to me: My son is using heroin. I tried to help him, but also know I enabled him more than helped. I recently told him he had to leave my home after money went missing again. I questioned myself – was I wrong or right? He said he wasn’t using again, but then I found proof that he was. It is the constant questioning of myself and my feelings that is breaking me. I want so badly to believe him, to believe he is telling me the truth, but it’s hard especially when time after time I find out that I have been fooled.

My personal reaction: I enabled and many of us do. Dr. MacAfee writes, “Libby both helped and enabled her son. This is oftentimes a normal response. The mother-son bond is natural and deep, and her attempts to help by bailing him out were acts of love. She wanted to trust her son; however, she didn’t see the level of duplicity and deception that he was living. Not initially and not for many years.”

Today’s Promise to Consider: Enabling or not enabling – it can be confusing. I will forgive myself for all the mistakes I made and for all the times I didn’t have the answers. I’ll forgive my loved one, too. Today, I’ll find strength in forgiveness.


Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1936

Langston Hughes wrote the following poem. We offer it to you for the New Year. Our children learn from our example. As my dad used to say, “When you’re a parent, there is no quit.”

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor —


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now —

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.